Seen at Tron Theatre, Glasgow. Now at St Brides, Edinburgh
Friedrich Diirrenmatt’s play is a darkly humorous table at corruptlble justice and persecution. A nastlly predictable story, it has overtones oi the Nazi purges and Germany’s uneasy post-war prosperity, but gradually develops a more general theme oi collective guilt—the ability oi a group oi people to rationalise and suppress individual conscience in exchange tor
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This is Theatre de Compllclte's iirst work derived irom an existing script, and one wonders initially whether the text will bear up under the company’s relentless physical inventiveness. For the iirst couple oi scenes, the dialogue does indeed seem incidental, and on the point oi drowning in the remarkable ensemble oi grotesquerles which have gained the company its reputation. in Annabel Arden's production, laces are pulled, limbs are jerked, humour is extracted; but it is not until Kathryn Hunter's marvellous, spidery billionairess delivers her after that can't be relused that the play ltselt is allowed to take control.
Thereaiter, the production is iaultless, and three hours sail by without a moment lacking in inspiration and truth. Purists might iind the adaptation too tree, but the play's essence could not be made more explicit, and Simon McBumey’s palntuiiy sincere periormance in the central role is a terrilic success, balancing precariously between maudlin indulgence and ridiculous clowning without once slipping.
Long may the best oi London's Fringe continue to visit Scotland. (Andrew Burnet)
7:84 Scotland, On Tour.
When it was iirst shown, Hector Machllan’s The Sash created an enormous stir, with its head-on attack on sectarianism. Seeing lt iitteen years later, one might expect ltto have dated, but in this line production by 7:84, it seems as iresh and as relevant as ever— sadly, in a sense, given the subject matter.
Machtillan makes brilliant and concise use oi his comedy. Focusslng on just a lew hours on 12 July, he manages to cover an enormous amount oi ground. He begins with broad and
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sharp comedy, as died-ln-the wool Glasgow Orangeman, Blll Machlliam, tries to iorce his son to go on the Orange March. But as events develop, and his Catholic Irish neighbour (a lovely periormance irom Alyxls Daly) and her niece become involved, the play moves into serious consideration at the personal and political, oi the damage done to people’s lives by various degrees oi loyalty.
This balancing oi comedy and tragedy is skiliully handled in Gerard Kelly’s production. Alexander Morton's Bill Machlllam is no caricature, but a believable portrait at a man set in his
ways- only his intolerant, intolerable views make him ridiculous. The break with his son then, when it comes, ls l painfully moving —a subtle, intelligent periormance by Douglas Henshall, as a young man horribly torn between his principles and his love tor his lather. The company work well together, the comedy is sharp and last, the pace sympathetic to the text. (Sarah Hemmlng)
Bedlam Theatre, Edinburgh
There was a time when ‘The Theatre oi the Absurd’ had playwrights, critics and even Orson Welles conducting running philosophical battles in the national press. Seeing Edinburgh University Theatre Company’s production oi lonesco’s Rhinoceros nearly 30 years on irom its British premiere, it’s hard to understand what all the iuss was about.
Using the standard ‘provincial' small-town setting oi French iarce, the play lollows its contused hero Berenger through tour scenes at increasingly nightmarish proportions as workmates, lriends and loverturn slowly but surely into rhinoceroses. As rhlnoceritls rapidly becomes the decent and respectable disease to have, Berenger stands alone in his anguish and disbeliei. Behind this amusing but essentially gimmicky dramatic conceit is an allegory oi the existential Everyman versus the totalitarian lorces oi rationality and logic that gild mindless herd-instincts with a veneer ol common sense.
Deliberater discarding any believable context, both the play and Stuart Botting's production don’t give the allegory any kind ol real substance.
With a lack oi strong characterisation.
what remains in EUTC’s version is simply the raw material oi iarce: the descent oi man into beast- and the best scene here is Phil Robertson’s excellent on-stage translormation irom the belligerent Jean into charging rhino, complete with green skin.
The early crowd scenes are well-orchestrated and boisterous enough to hold attention but Rowan Somervllle’s eitete Berenger tails to animate the static and tediously drawn-out conclusion. There are a iew laughs to be had, but the overriding leellng is that this dramatic curio needs treating with less respect and more ieroclty. (Simon Bayly)
Citizens Theatre, Glagow
Arriving a iew minutes late tor Robert David MacDonald‘s new production oi Ben Jonson’s Rennalsance comedy merely emphasised ior me the boldness oi the production.
MacDonald has updated the play to 30s' urban America, setting the action on a black and white set designed by Stewart Laing. Stumbling upon luriously paced pertormances already underway was exactly like stumbling on a 1930s' or 40s' American screwball comedy being re-run tor the umpteenth time late night on television. Lose your concentration tor a moment, and the whole thing becomes a series at weird unconnected pieces oi comedy.
Instead oi attempting to recreate the nuances ot Jacobean comedy, the Citz has attempted the equally diiiicult task ol trying to uncover the comic links between two separate eras, one oi which is accessible to us only through the written word and the other that survives only through the increasingly arcane world at early movies.
It’s a marvelloust iconoclastic approach to Jonson which at times produces a modern iorm of comedy very close to that oi Dario Fo. Ron Donachie is particularly good as Epicure Mammon, a version oi that universal character, striding through centuries oi comedy, building himsell up only to be knocked down by the wit oi others.
What the production lacks however is a sense oi clarity. Too much ot the detail oi what is going on is simply lost. For all its cleverness, there remains a leellng that Jonson hasn't quite been done justice to. (Nigel Blllen)
focussing on two men. their differences and their similarities. and what they reveal. in French, presented through the French Institute. I NETHERBOW ARTS CENTRE 43 High Street. 556 9579. Box Office. “lam—4.30pm. 7—9pm perf. evgs. Cafe. [Access: R. Facilities: WC. W3. E. G. B. R. Help: A. AA] Can Ye Sew Cushions Thurs 9—Sat 11 Feb. 7.30pm. (‘lyde L'nity Theatre in Aileen Ritchie‘s play about a 1930s Glasgow girl. who marries a (ilasgow hard man. with tragic results. A warm. intelligent and moving play. given a good performance by (‘lyde Unity. Well worth a visit. The Reluctant Debutante Thurs lb—Sat 18 Feb. 7.30pm. Outlaw‘d Theatre Company in William Douglas Home‘s 1950s comedy of manners. I PLAYHOUSE18—22 Cireenside Place, 557 2590. Box Office Mon—Sat 10am—6pm (8pm on show nights). Bar. [Access: P. R. Facilities: WS. E. (3. Help: AA] No theatre performances this fortnight. I ROYAL LYCEUM (irindlay Street. 229 9697. Box Office Mon—Sat 10am—6pm. 10am—8pm on perf. evgs. Bar. Rest/Cafe. [Aceessz P. 1.. Facilites: WC, W3. AS. E. (i. B. R. T. Help: A. AA]. (TheatreSaver Concession (‘ards cost £1 . last all year. give £1 off the full price each time you come for you and a friend — available to OAPs. L'B4i)s. Students. Disabled and YTS scheme) Tickets for Lyceum productions are also available at the Ticket Centre. Waverley Bridge; branches of AT May's Travel and the Queen's l lall. (‘lerk Street. A View From the Bridge Fri 10 Feb—Sat 4 Mar. 7.45pm. Sat Mat 25 Feb.3. 15pm. £2.5(L—£7. 'I’heatreSaver holders£l off. Sat mat all tickets £3. FREE Preview Thurs‘) Feb. After success last year with a moving [)eut/i ()fu Salesman. the Lyceum mount another Arthur Miller classic. Set in a Brooklyn slum. this play had even the hardest-boiled searching for their bankies when Michael (iambon did it at the National Theatre recently. The part of Eddie (‘arbone is played by Kenny Ireland in this production. directed by Ian Wooldridge and designed by Kenny Miller. I St BRIOES CENTRE Orwell Terrace. Box Office for this showzll312265425. The Visit Tue 7—Sat 11 Feb, 7.30pm. Theatre dc (‘omplicite in an acclaimed production of Friedrich Durrenmatt's play. a grotesque comedy about the greed of a village when a rich old lady comesto visit. One of three works they are bringing to Scotland. See Theatre Workshop and Touring. I THEATRE WORKSHOP 34 Hamilton Place. 226 5425. Box Office Mon-Sat 9.3(lam-5.3llpm. Bar. Cafe. [Accessz PPA. R. Facilities: WC. W5. AS. E.G. Help: AA] Birds oi Passage Wed R—Sat 11 Feb, 8pm. £2.5()(£1.5()). The latest ofTheatre Workshop‘s Performance Projects. which in the past have often been extremely successful. This time over 150 people will be involved in various aspects ofputting together the production. which. written by eight writers. looks at Seotswomen who, for one reason or another. have been forced to emigrate over the past two centuries. The Visit Tue 7—Sat ll Feb. A show by Theatre de Complicite presented by Theatre Workshop at St Brides Centre. See St Brides Centre. Ave Maria! My Army Tue l4—Sat 18 Feb. 8pm. Theatre dc (‘omplicite present two solo shows: A i't’ Maria by Linda Scott Kerr (see Panel) and My Army byTim Barlow. based on his own experiences of Sandburst and army life. I TRAVERSE THEATRE 112 West Bow. Grassmarket. 226 2633. Box Office Tue—Sat 10am—8pm. Sun 6—1()pm. Bar. Rest. Tickets also available from the Ticket Centre, Market Street. [Accessz St. Facilities: E. Help: A. AA].
24 The List 10— 23 February